TREES & plants

Japanese flowering cherry

Japanese flowering cherry is an Asian species known more for its cultivars. The actual species is seldom sold. The cultivars produce showy flowers in spring and some good leaf color in autumn.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Prunus serrulata
All Common Names: 
Japanese flowering cherry
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Planting Site: 
  • Residential and parks, 
  • Under utility lines
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen, 
  • Utility
Size Range: 
  • Small tree (15-25 feet)
Mature Height: 
15-20 feet
Mature Width: 
15-20 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Tolerant
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Tolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Intolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Intolerant
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Spring blossoms, 
  • Fall color, 
  • Fragrant flowers, 
  • Showy flowers, 
  • Attractive bark
Season of Interest: 
  • Early spring, 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Pink, 
  • White
Shape or Form: 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
  • Insect pollinators
More Information: 

Tree & Plant Care

This can be a high maintenance tree due to numerous disease and insect problems.  Not all cultivars are hardy in zone 5.  This can be a relatively short-lived tree.

Disease, pests, and problems

Susceptible to many diseases and insects, including black knot, mildew, borers, mites and tent caterpillars.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China, Japan and Korea.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is smooth and shiny and is marked with long horizontal lenticels; red-brown in color.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Simple, alternate leaves, lance-shaped and 2 to 5 inches long.  Green in summer, changing to reddish bronze in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Flowers may be pink or white, singles or doubles depending on cultivar.  Flowering occurs in spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruits are small red to black cherries.  Some cultivars are sterile and produce no fruit.

Cultivars and their differences 

Kwanzan (Kazan) (Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan' or 'Kanzan') is the most most widely available cultivar.  It has dark pink, double flowers and produces themin great abundance.  Good fall color.

Royal Burgundy (Prunus serrulata 'Royal Burgundy') has red-pink double flowers.  New foliage emerges burgundy in spring.  Reddish orange fall color.

Prunus serrulata or Japanese flowering cherry